Death is one of those big areas of cultural difference. My friend's mum has just died and today she is going to be buried. Today is one full week since she died. The priest even offered her a later date but N prefered today. For us, we bury our dead as soon as possible. It is only in exceptional circumstances that a person is buried in even 3 days. So that kind of thing is weird. The practice of waiting a while before burying a person is very loaded for Jewish people.

But where the differences really come out is in how to behave with the bereaved. If a Jewish person has died, I know what to do. I know what is expected. It is a ritual I know and understand so I don't have to consider what is the best thing. I already know it. When a non-Jewish person dies, I don't know what to say. I know I can't say 'Long Life', because that sounds wierd to non-Jewish ears. There's no prayers in the person's home - usually - and the wake is often people standing around feeling awkward and drinking in the middle of the day. Luckily, because I am an Australian immigrant, my behaviour is dismissed as a bit odd on those grounds.

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